- (c) 2011 Jim Klousia for Edible Madison
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GOING SUSTAINABLE AT HOME. . .
It is easy to point out all of the problems with Americans’ lifestyles. In some way or other, we all contribute. Every hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic water bottles, a bulky proposition that landfills struggle to choke down. And, every day, an average household uses 160 gallons of water; every week, Americans throw out a combined 1 million tons of edible food; and, over the course of an average lifespan, we each generate 52 tons of garbage, one-third of which is simply packaging material. Yes, we are wasteful.
But what is more helpful than simply pointing out the problems, and what we at Sustain Dane hope that we can provide, are everyday solutions-or, if we can’t directly provide information, then we can point you towards ideas or programs that will help you make your home and your lifestyle a bit more sustainable, and a bit less impactful on our limited resources.
Americans may be wasteful, but we also are making small changes and big differences. Only 20 years ago, Americans were throwing away enough aluminum cans every day to build a 12-foot high wall from NYC to LA. But now? We have cut that amount in half, with more than two-third of cans used being recycled-an immense savings considering the amount of energy necessary to provide a single can, and the amount of air pollution that process takes.
At home, you can make big differences:
“”Inside our housesInside: energy efficiency, low VOCs: are dozens of worthwhile projects. You don’t need to install solar panels or a wind turbine on your roof to make a difference (although we certainly won’t stop you!). Small projects also can make a big difference (and a big savings): Have you had your home tested for its energy efficiency? Have you changed your light bulbs to TK? Need a persuasive argument why to do so? Or, how about, do you know what “vampire energy” is (and that, no, it doesn’t take a garland of garlic to stop it, but power strips can!). Sustain Dane provides suggestions and links to make your home more sustainable.
The land outside our homes also are fertile ground for change. Did you know that the average food items-whether it is a chicken egg or a tomato-moves 1500 miles from production to your dinner plate? That consumes an unnecessary amount of oil-and leaves a giant carbon footprint. You can provide many of the same food products just 15 steps from your backdoor to your dinner table. Simple projects like rain harvesting and composting are important small changes. And, plant native species like apple trees can be an important way to reduce water runoff into our lakes and rivers. Learn more about our workshops.
Whether it is a nip and tuck to our lifestyle habits, or a dramatic overhaul, we each can change the way that we go about our daily lives to make them more sustainable. For decades, “green lifestyles” were considered the domain for the Birkenstock and hippie crowd, but that is no longer true. New York City has added 250 miles of bicycle lanes for its commuting attorneys and CEOs. Closer to home, Middleton recently added a bike-share program for families. Commuting by bicycle has never been easier or safer. Why not switch over now?
Really, any time of year is a great time to make a New Year’s resolution to modify your daily habits-maybe is it time to learn how to can and jar food? Sustain Dane provides recipes, links to bike lane maps, and other suggestions and inspirations for new, more sustainable lifestyle.
And, of course, it is important to recognize that your home and your lifestyle is just one puzzle piece in the larger picture of your neighborhood and community. Find out more about how you can work with your neighbors to TK, and discover ways to get involved with local, political leadership to bring about public policy aimed at creating ecological and economic sustainability in our cities and towns.